FAMACHA testing saved our goats

Today is really a day of rest. I’m the only awake; Bob is zonked out and the dogs are sleeping (two at my feet, one in the living room, and the other on the porch).

Naming our place Sleeping Dog Ranch was a stroke of genius, even though we didn’t realize it at the time. Our pace setters are sleeping dogs, napping cats, and dozing goats; the chickens are the only ones out scratching. What a perfect time for relaxing, renewing, and reflecting.

Last week’s work load was steady. That’s always good because we can pace ourselves for the next week. The goats are looking good, firm body condition, pink eyes, and steady appetite. Their coats are shinny and healthy looking. Their weight is holding.

I get the feeling that our FAMACHA program is working. That’s refreshing because we’ve put so much effort in maintaining their health. I had no idea that we had such a BAD internal parasite infestation. I just couldn’t understand why our babies died. They looked good to me.

Duh … the light finally went on. Unfortunately it took the life of a 7-week-old baby and a buckling to cause a major response. What ever we were doing wasn’t enough.

We’ve had the equipment and chemicals to perform FAMACHA for several months but we didn’t have a place to put it. (Didn’t count: You GOTTA DO THOSE TESTS — REGIOUSLY.)

OK, need established. Bob and I bought two counter base units and a 6 foot counter top on Saturday. He found a place near our soap factory to put it and built the workstation on Sunday. On Monday Jordan and I were collecting fecal matter.

That was ab0ut two months ago, maybe three. My days sort of run together. Anyway, we sorted about 30 goats based on care need: eye color combined with body condition (gender of course, we already had 18 babies to care for).

No ONE was clear of internal parasites. Jordan discovered that coccidia was a major issue; our vet told us that if you see ONE coccidia in the microscope, you administer Corid to that goat. Fortunately or not, we found many, many coccidia so the entire herd was treated – immediately. We medicated them in their water and with their feed.

Jordan also discovered several different types of internal parasites. (She’s now an export.) I’ve kept records of who-got-what-when for years so we administered Cydectin to everyone; it was next on the list of rotation dewormers.

Ten days later everyone received their Cydectin dosage – again.
Ten days after this, Jordan started taking fecal samples – again.
From these records, we know which goat has a propensity for getting internal parasites; some immune systems are stronger than others. This will make a difference in our breeding program.

We’ve divided our pastures into paddocks so we can manage the grasses better.

Lessons Learned:
· Implement testing procedures immediately
· Maintain records
· Manage pastures (rotate, fertilize)
· Maintain Goat Exam Calendar in barn where everyone sees it
· Reduce population (This is the hard one for me.)

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